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Recorded & mixed at Kreuzkirche Mülheim / Ruhr, January 2008 by Albrecht Maurer. Mastered by Reinhard Kobialka, Topaz Studio Cologne. Grafic Design by Christiane Resch. Produced by Albrecht Maurer.
Guitarist Bruce Eisenbeil has chosen the preferred instrument of rock guitarists, the Fender Stratocaster, as the focal point for his creative improvised spontaneous compositions wrapped in forms and functions based in the modern mainstream. The rhythm team of bassist Tom Abbs and drummer Nasheet Waits keeps loose time in check, while front-line players violinist Jean Cook, trumpeter Nate Wooley, and alto saxophonist Aaron Ali Shaikhdart in and out of melody lines, free improv, and counterpoint. The combination produces an arresting sound that approaches an unrivaled sonic text. The centerpiece of the project is the 47-and-a-half-minute title track, split into 27 sections. You hear open-ended spontaneous compositions with complex melodies flowing freely in a static manner. Brawny swing and polyrhythms suggest the influences of John Coltrane, Ornette Coleman, and Cecil Taylor, as Eisenbeil's chopped and channeled block chords and blunt single lines construct and deconstruct at will. Very little is serene or introspective up to piece number eight, "Effigy," and number nine, "Totem," while the bass and drums snuggle up to the beautiful unison harmony of number 12, "Walkabout," while number 15, "Dream Breath," is a free bop discourse, number 18, "Wormhole Thief," is basic modal, and number 20, "Dragonfly," presents a complex modality. The end pieces shift to a more liquid, then manic, then chameleonic wash of color and rhythm, with Shaikh's alto voice pronounced, with more sonic textures explored by the finale, "Some Ocean." The remaining three pieces are three to three and three-quarters minutes in length, with two showing the influences of Derek Bailey and Loren MazzaCane Connors on Eisenbeil, and the last cut, "Receding Storm," a sweet return, approaching a parable lullaby, with a very restrained guitar sound that is a polar opposite to the rest of the disc. It's clear Eisenbeil cannot rest on his laurels or previous achievements, and is striving for something quite different. While Inner Constellation is clearly ambitious, talent and smarts are also here, indicating more new music to come.
by Michael G. Nastos allmusic.com
Bruce Eisenbeil - guitar
Jean Cook - violin
Nate Wooley - trumpet
Aaron Ali Shaikh - alto sax
Tom Abbs - acoustic bass
Nasheet Waits - drums
The astonishing Inner Constellation Volume One most definitely qualifies as difficult music. Not due to normal reasons including complexity, intricacy, abrasiveness or lack of musical touchstones, but rather that the title track, at forty-seven-plus minutes, needs to be listened to in toto.
Guitarist Bruce Eisenbeil has much to say about the compositional impulse and structure of the work, from the techniques employed to the emotions and atmosphere he desires to present to the listener. All of this information is fine, and much of it in retrospect becomes audible and validated through multiple listenings.
It is the sound, however, and the sheer energy and intelligence behind it all, that makes this record something in which to rejoice. From the first gnarly Stratocaster guitar riffs, this piece just does not let go, and as spaces are being filled and emptied and textures actually felt, the music is alive and breathing. Rhythms coalesce, pick up steam and affect the body, only to drift away. Independent instrumental lines fly apart and come together, creating aural densities and mental colors. Images abound independent of evocative titles given to the track points. Breathless, and possibly shell-shocked after the experience, the impulse is to immediately hit replay.
Eisenbeil is quick to credit the members of his sextet for the final shape of the work. The band learned their parts by ear, using the score as a map offering signposts. Each band member clearly relishes playing this music, with past experiences well-preparing him/her for this kind of structured freedom.
Violinist Jean Cook, recorded far left, is as sharp as a tack and her sound is felt surrounding the others as much as being an individual line. Alto saxophonist Aaron Ali Shaikh and trumpeter Nate Wooley share the right channel, as often creating their parts together as separately, throwing fire bolts into the mix. The rhythm section of bassist Tom Abbs and drummer Nasheet Waits are in the center rear of the mix, constantly shifting the pulse and feel, either pushing and pulling the music or keeping the fires burning.
In the middle and directly in front is Eisenbeil, who sounds as if he can barely contain himself with rapid fire notes, string sounds and chordal strumming that flies up and down the neck. He clearly leads the band, but he can also be heard reveling in what is happening by how he responds.
Not to be forgotten, there are three discreet tracks after this whirlwind. Each about three minutes and exploring a completely different mood, with Eisenbeil's typical intensity.
Thrilling, exhausting, uplifting and energizing, Inner Constellation is music for the long haul, to be savored again and again as music for the body and the mind. Unforgettable from its first minutes, it will never let go and is most definitely one of the best releases of 2007.
Track Listing: Inner Constellation: Autumn Light, Elastic Horizon, Enter Fresh Juicy, Three Uninvited Guests, Clinging Fire, Being Drawn, Phat on the Runway, Effigy, Totem, Mask in Profile, Triple Astra Texture, Walkabout, Transformation, Death Once Dead, No Dying Then, Dream Breath, Richter Smears, Spiral Blue, Wormhole Thief, Red Pepper Pods, Add Wings to Them, Dragonfly, Eucalyptus, Spice Enters the Groovy Night, Autumn Clouds, Burning Nest, Keeping Still Mountain, Inner Constellation, Sonic Ocean; Rain in the Face; Cues to the Vagabond; Receding Storm.
Personnel: Bruce Eisenbeil: acoustic and electric guitars; Jean Cook: violin; Nate Wooley: trumpet; Aaron Al Shaikh: alto sax; Tom Abbs: acoustic bass; Nasheet Waits: drums.
By BUDD KOPMAN, Published: December 20, 2007
With over 2500 Jazz CD’s released 2007, Inner Constellation was voted
one of the Top 10 Jazz CD’s by:
Ken Waxman (Coda) jazzword.com
Stuart Broomer (Village Voice) villagevoice.com
Budd Kopman (All About Jazz) allaboutjazz.com